Friday, August 5 2022

A man was found guilty by a jury on Wednesday of first degree murder in the murder of a Port Huron woman.

Robert Tonchen of Port Huron was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, tampering with evidence and fourth degree arson.

Jury deliberations lasted approximately one hour.

Tonchen killed Stephanie Thompson in her vehicle in the early hours of New Year’s Day after making a drug deal with her, according to court testimony.

Tonchen faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Thompson was found dead in a parked vehicle with trauma evident to her body in the 2700 block of Vanness Street around 5:45 a.m. Jan. 1, Port Huron Police Department said.

St. Clair County Senior Assistant District Attorney Joshua Sparling said Tonchen killed Stephanie Thompson while traveling with her in his Grand Marquis in Port Huron between 4:07 a.m. and 4:28 a.m. on New Years Day. He organized the meeting under the pretext of drug trafficking.

Tonchen then came to Thompson’s boyfriend’s house with her car keys. He made conflicting statements about what happened and where Thompson was and drove them through the Village Manor neighborhood, supposedly looking for his car, Sparling said.

Sparling said Tonchen disappeared from search and security footage showing an individual going to the Grand Marquess of Thompson twice and starting a fire inside.

Sparling said Tonchen was trying to steal drugs or money from Thompson to fuel his substance use disorder.

Tonchen’s DNA was found under Thompson’s fingernails and Tonchen had scratch marks on him, showing that Thompson fought for her life. Thompson’s fingerprints were also found on a throttle box in the vehicle, Sparling said.

Thompson was stabbed more than 12 times, with a final fatal wound in her neck.

David Kelley, Tonchen’s attorney, said selling drugs can be a dangerous business. While Tonchen was with Thompson that night, it doesn’t prove Tonchen killed her.

“If you think Robert Tonchen was with Stephanie Thompson, that doesn’t mean he was the killer,” Kelley said.

Kelley also said it could not be proven that Tonchen was the one in the surveillance footage attempting to set Thompson’s car on fire.

Tonchen was scheduled to attend a sentencing hearing at 1:45 p.m. on September 6 before St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Lane.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]

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